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Tougher Flu Season Expected in U.S. This Year
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Tougher Flu Season Expected in U.S. This Year

09.23.2022

Take preventive steps, get vaccinated

ROME, Ga., September 23, 2022 The start, duration and severity of flu season can be a bit unpredictable every year, but there are things you can do now and throughout flu season to help prepare and protect yourself. From October 2021 to June 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nationwide up to 13 million people contracted the flu, up to 6.1 million visited a health care provider for treatment, up to 170,000 were hospitalized and up to 14,000 died because of this seasonal flu.

Understanding This Year's Flu Conditions

This year (much like the last), COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened or lifted, kids are back in school and many businesses and communities have returned to pre-pandemic activities.

As people re-emerge after two to three years without typical social interaction and exposure to circulating germs, their immunity to things like the flu may have been impacted. Given these conditions, experts think we're going to experience a more severe flu season this year compared to last.

“It looks like the flu season this year could definitely be worse than last year," said Dr. Michael Land, who treats patients at Atrium Health Floyd Primary Care Family Medicine in Adairsville.

Health officials keep a close eye on countries in the southern hemisphere, such as Australia, because their season is ahead of ours in the United States. And the data there isn't a comforting prediction for us – Australia had its worst flu season in five years.

A few other factors to keep in mind are:

  • Both the flu and COVID-19 can spread before a person is symptomatic.
  • They share many of the same symptoms, even the loss of taste and smell, although it's more common with COVID-19.
  • It's possible to have them at the same time or with another respiratory illness

Protecting Yourself Against the Flu (and COVID-19)

Anyone who has ever had the flu knows it's no fun. Fortunately, you can take several proactive steps to lessen the chances of contracting the flu, which also help protect you against COVID-19.

Follow these tips for avoiding germs:

  • If you're sick, stay home.
  • Wear a mask and practice social distancing whenever respiratory virus levels in your community are high or if you have a high-risk medical condition.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Don't touch your face or rub your eyes.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wipe down frequently used surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes.
  • Get vaccinated for both flu and COVID in preparation for the upcoming season.

"The vaccine can reduce your risk of contracting the virus, keep you from having serious symptoms, and reduce the risk of spreading the flu to vulnerable members of the community," Land said. “Side effects are usually mild, most commonly a low-grade fever or sore arm as your immune system learns to fight the flu. Please talk with your primary care provider if you have any questions about vaccinations."

​Help boost your immune system by incorporating these daily habits:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Get a good night's rest.
  • Fit in some exercise several times a week.
  • Destress whenever possible.

​About Atrium Health Floyd
Since 1942, Floyd, now Atrium Health Floyd, has worked to provide affordable, accessible care in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Today, Atrium Health Floyd is a leading medical provider and economic force. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation's leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. At the hub of these services is Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center, a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center. Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,400 teammates who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia; Atrium Health Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; Atrium Health Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia, as well as Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center Behavioral Health, a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility, also in Rome; and a primary care and urgent care network with locations throughout the service area of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.​